In addition to stories about Colombia, to more fully flesh out our 360-degree view of the country, GrupoAmos on Colombia will feature profiles of Colombians. Here’s the first.
Donde Mi Negra
Sarah Rúa and Byron Gomez are the owners and operators of the restaurant, Donde Mi Negra (loosely translated as, where my black woman is). It’s located in the Medellín neighborhood of Simon Bolivar and serves breakfast and lunch. I live about three blocks away and eat lunch there three or four days a week.
The couple has two employees: a cook and a waiter. It’s home-style cooking at its best, the kind of restaurant that typifies Colombia: personable and inexpensive with great-tasting food. Their menu lunch costs 8,500 Colombian pesos, the equivalent of $2.79 usd.
Sarah and Byron have been a couple for two years, since Sarah wandered into a bar that Byron owned.
They quickly started dating and once the relationship was firmly established, began looking for a business to enter into together. Originally, they were thinking about a grocery store.
One Saturday, they stumbled across the restaurant. “It felt right,” Sarah said. They made the decision to buy that same day. Two days later they were cooking breakfasts for their newly-acquired customers. In October, they’ll celebrate their year anniversary as restauranteurs.
Sarah is from Medellin, but lived in Barcelona, Spain for 17 years. She’s been back in Colombia since early 2015. She’s a natural saleswoman who had a clothing store when she lived in Barcelona.
Byron is from Turbo, a coastal town in Antioquia, but has lived in Medellin since he was five. He studied business administration at the University of San Buenaventura.
While Sarah runs Donde Mi Negra during the week, Byron works for the National Tax and Customs Department of Colombia (DIAN), in the section that administers merchandise imports and exports and the associated money transfers. Bryon helps open and close the restaurant, and does full shifts on Saturday and holidays.
The hardest thing about the business for them was learning the particular tastes of the regular clients. Sarah added that it’s tough for her to be in the restaurant all day long. She was used to traveling around the city selling to her clothing customers. (She still runs her clothing business, but it’s more of a side activity now.)
When I asked them, who was the boss, Sarah responded that she was. Byron answered that they both are. I got the sense that both answers are correct.
Their plans for the future are a big wedding and to continue running the restaurant (in that order).